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The Situation Room

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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Us 39, Algeria 30, U.s. 27, United States 17, Julia 10, Nra 9, Faa 9, Boeing 8, Washington 8, Newtown 8, Geico 7, David Keene 7, Pentagon 7, Mali 7, Ocuvite 6, Subaru 6, Slimful 6, Hagen 5, London 5, Julia Stokes 5,
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  CNN    The Situation Room    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting  
   and online resources update international news. New.  

    January 16, 2013
    1:00 - 4:00pm PST  

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preparing for the inauguration day on monday. $100,000 in jewelry loaner. they'll have a designer come over and hook you up with all of the designers that you want. >> there's that view. >> and post inauguration massages. at the fairmont, brooke, will get you two secret service agents. fake ones, not real ones. they are going to have some of their workers dress up as a secret service agent. a bmw is available at your disposal. thank you. and now before i let you go with lance armstrong's oprah interview coming up tomorrow, we have a question. has cheating become common places? tomorrow at 3:00 eastern we will examine precisely that.
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why we cheat, the psychology and science behind cheating. we're all over it. don't miss it tomorrow. that's it for me here m i'm brooke baldwin in atlanta. now we go to washington to wolf blitzer. "the situation room" begins now. brooke, thanks very much. happening now, breaking news. americans held hostage in a deadly terrorist attack in algeria. we'll have the latest. also, the president of the nra is here in "the situation room." we're getting his reaction to the sweeping proposals against gun violence. and the presidential inauguration only five days away. we'll take you inside the law enforcement command center working to keep him safe. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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this is cnn breaking news. >> let's get to the breaking news. a deadly terrorist attack on a gas field in eastern algeria near the libyan border. some of the more than 40 hostages seized have been released but a number of them are still being held, including americans. the state department confirms those americans are affiliated with the oil giant bp. let's bring in elise labott. the latest information you're getting is what? >> well, at first these assailants, these affiliated-al qaeda militants tried to storm a bus, these bp employees headed for an air field in nearby eastern algeria, that was not successful. then they stormed the compound of this living -- the living quarters of this air field and they took about 40 hostages. we understand that about seven americans -- we're not sure.
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it could be a little bit more, a little less -- are being held as well as britain, japan, norway, and ir labd. >> do we know who these americans are, what they were doing there precisely? >> they were all working in some capacity for bp. it's a very remote area and that's all that is going on, is this gas field in the area. we know the state department has been in touch. we're told by officials with some of the families, not all. so they are hesitant to release their names until all of the families are involved. we understand some nationals have other countries have called their families to tell them that they were being taken hostage but the families here in america haven't be said anything yet, wolf. >> the u.s. calling this a terrorist incident. do we know who these terrorists are? >> why are they calling it a terrorist incident? because they say that this group is related with al qaeda and al qaeda and islamic -- the group is called the brigade of the masked ones. >> brigade of what? >> the brigade of the masked
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ones. >> masked ones? >> masked ones. we know that they are based in northern mali. we understand that they are also in northern libya. what is happening is they are saying that this is retribution for france getting -- for algeria giving france access to its air space for this offensive we've been reporting on in eastern mali. this horn nest nest in mali is shaking over these militants that are believed to be involved have ties to the islamic groups involved in the benghazi attack against the u.s. consulate. this is the concern right now, that this is spilling over to other areas of the region. >> so americans are now being held. what is the u.s. doing? what are you hearing? what is the u.s. government trying to do, the military and civilian sector? >> well, right now we understand that on the diplomatic front the u.s. is letting the algerian take the leads. the algerians have voubded the
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compound. they are trying to negotiate with the kidnappers. we are told that in addition to this retribution that they are talking about, they are also asking for some of their prisoners who were being held by algeria and other countries to be released and sent to northern mali. they are handling that. obviously the u.s. has assets in the region and can be contemplating some type of rescue. >> elise, thank you very much. we're learning that africa is taking the lead on the military side of the crisis. let's go to our pentagon correspondent, chris lawrence. chris, if needed, where could the military help come from? >> it could come from europe and even closer. a senior defense official tells me now that defense secretary leon panetta has assured americans that the u.s. military will take all necessary and proper steps to deal with this attack. what could that mean? most importantly, the pentagon's africa command has what is
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called a commander and extremist force. it's a small, very lethal force that is dedicated to hostage rescue and counterterrorism. they are at an undisclosed location but we're told they are on a very, very short window to be put into action. now, expanding out just a little bit, take a look at the map, look at where algeria is. look at where this oil facility is. you can take a look in italy, the u.s. has air bases in italy which they could use a cargo lift, they could also use surveillance plates from there and they also have about 150 marines that are trained in crisis intervention in italy and also as we move over to rota, spain, there are two marine corps anti-terrorism bases there. further out, if necessary, back here on the east coast, all u.s. special operations forces are operating on about a four-hour window to be mobilized, if needed. >> what does that mean, a
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four-hour window for special operation forces? let's say north carolina or anyplace. what does that mean, specifically? >> that means at any point in time, whether it's s.e.a.l.s or delta force, the commanders could call on these special forces and within about four hours they could be ready to go. >> and then they move. what has to happen before that? what happens first before they do that? >> they've got a get a clear situation of what is going on on the ground and what we're hearing is they just don't have that yet. they really want to understand exactly how many hostage takers they are dealing with. the real -- the detailed layout of this oil facility, is it easy to defend or difficult to defend and a better idea of the territory around it, how you would get in, how you would get out, those are all questions that they would want to get answered and, of course, you've still got the state department and the algerians working and
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perhaps talking so that this maybe does not have to come down to some sort of military response. >> chris, i know you're working the story for us. we'll stay on top of the breaking news. chris lawrence over at the pentagon. other important news today, with a stroke of a pen, president obama signs 23 new executive aks. he's vowing to use whatever weight his office has without congressional approval to battle gun violence in the wake of the devastating massacre in newtown, connecticut can. he's also calling on congress to approve the most sweeping gun legislation in decades. standing at his side, four children, each of whom wrote him letters like this one, which reads -- let me put it up on the screen. dear president obama, i beg you to try very hard to make guns not allowed. let's go to our chief white house correspondent, jessica yellin. she was there when the president and vice president announced their plan.
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give us the latest. what's going on? >> reporter: wolf, 33 days after the newtown shooting, the president has unveiled his proposal to overhaul the gun safety rules and he's makingt clear that he hopes to channel the nation's outrage over that sandy hook tragedy into congressional action. president obama laid out an ambitious agenda to change the nation's gun safety rules and insisted he won't back down from a fight. >> i will put everything i have into this and so will joe. but i tell you, the only way we can change is if the american people demand it. >> reporter: he used the power of the presidency using executive actions allowing the government to crack down on gun crimes, like tracking stolen guns and prosecuting people who use them, improving background checks with more mental health reporting and information sharing, upping school resources and supporting mental health with more teachers and
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counselors. >> congress needs to help rather than hinder law enforcement as it does its job. >> so he's calling on congress to step it up, too, with a ban on armor piercing bullets, stricter gun trafficking laws and for cops on the streets. but the priorities will be pushing congress to ban high-capacity magazines and making background checks universal. his point man on the issue predicts tough politics. >> i have no illusions about what we're up against or how hard the task is in front of us. >> reporter: to make the case, he brought persuasive advocates, elementary school kids who wrote the president after the sandy hook shooting. >> julia said -- julia, where are you? there you go. i'm not scared for my safety. i'm scared for others. >> reporter: what do you hope can happen? >> well, i hope it's much harder for people to buy guns. i hope that like people with mental illness don't -- can't buy a gun. >> reporter: what made you write the president?
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>> i wanted the children that still have their lives now to be safe instead of endangered. >> reporter: it's a message the president hopes will deliver results. >> let's do the right thing. let's do the right thing for them and for this country that we love so much. >> reporter: and wolf, they are not just leaving that to chance already. grassroots organizations that work with the white house are mobilizing to push this agenda. they include the campaign apparatus which will help press the message. moveon.org is undertaking its own efforts so is mayors against illegal guns. some of those mayors will be at the white house later this week, wolf. >> the president has a lot on his plate in the first few weeks of his second term. do we expect him to take his campaign against gun violence out there on the road as well?
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>> reporter: wolf, that is something that he said he will do, and i would expect this is a top priority. we could see him pressing this on the trail in the public eye. they have not made that explicit point but i suspect it's something this president would have in his mind, yes. >> jessica yellin, thanks very much. coming up in a few minutes, this hour in "the situation room," the president of the national rifle association, david keene will join me live. we'll get his reaction to the president's ambitious plan. i'll also ask him about a new nra ad talking about the president's daughters, an ad that says the president is being a hypocrite. did that ad cross a line? and a ball of flames in the middle of london after a helicopter crashes during rush hour. we're going live with what caused the crash. [ male announcer ] when we built the cadillac ats from the ground up to be the world's best sport sedan... ♪
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. one of the harshest critics of president obama's battle against gun violence is the national rifle association. but some, including many democrats on capitol hill, are criticizing a new nra ad that mentions the president's daughters and calls him an elitist hypocrite. they say that ad goes way too far. jim acosta is joining us now with more on the details. this ad has really generated a huge, huge uproar. >> that's right. they call the ad dangerous. there is no doubt, the tactics have been effective over the decades in blocking gun control and the question is whether the latest ad will backfire.
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the nation's most powerful advocate for the second amendment had already launched a pre-emptive strike. >> are the president's kids more important than yours? and why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools? >> the national rifle association calls attention to the secret service protection calling attention to malia and sasha at their private school in washington. >> protection for their kids and gun-free zones for ours. >> the proposal forearmed police officers nationwide is a reminder of the nra's hardball tactics to hit the halls of congress. but nancy pelosi heading into a hearing of new gun restrictions with mayor nutter says the ad crosses the line. >> it was completely inappropriate to include the
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president's children. they have protection because of national security and it was really inappropriate. >> do you think the nra made a mistake there? other house democrats say that the ad mounted to intimidation. >> that kind of bad is -- i think it's dangerous. >> it was irresponsible and, you know, this is not your grandfather's nra. >> there was also outrage saying that the president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight, said jay carney. but to make the children the subject of an attack ad is cowardly. and the nra says, i warned you this day was coming and now it's here. this is the fight of the century and i need you on board with the nra now more than ever. at his news conference, president obama indicated he knew this was coming. >> this will be difficult. there will be pundits and
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politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of an al out assault on liberty. >> the superintendent of the newtown school system said she's not backing down either. >> i was going to be tough, isn't it, for your side to prevail on this? >> i'm standing here talking about children and i have no issue at all with people's second amendment rights but i will tell you, i have no locks. i have no artificial barriers i can put up to withstand an ar-15. >> we've tried to reach out to the nra to ask the organization about the ad but they did not respond to our request about the comment. they released a more toned down statement saying the lobby looks forward to working with congress on a bipartisan basis. wolf, it's worth pointing out we also tried to reach out to house republicans, many of them out of town on a political retreat down in virginia. and this ad is hardly costing
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the nra any money. they are not really placing a lot of spots out there. it's just getting a lot of free media attention on social media and so forth and that's how it makes the rounds. >> it's going viral. the president of the nra, david keene is coming to "the situation room," he'll be joining me live this hour and we'll get his reaction to the uproar that that ad has caused. we'll see what he has to say. thanks very much for that, jim ask acosta. here we are, orc polls on gun control. they are just coming in. take a look at this, new numbers just coming in. 56% of those polled say existing gun laws make it too easy to buy guns with just 3% saying they make it too difficult. 40% saying they are just about right. joining us now to breakdown these numbers is our chief political analyst gloria borger. so a majority, 56%, too easy to buy gun, 40%, just about right. that majority should make it
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relatively easy for the president to get his wish and see this legislation passed. >> well, would you think so. but not so fast. for a while now the public has really been in favor of more gun control. newtown brings a new urgency, just like columbine or virginia tech or aurora, colorado. but that doesn't mean, wolf, that the politics of gun control have completely evolved and when we heard the president this morning, it's clear he was pretty realistic about what his chances are about getting all of these things through. here's another issue politically for the president. for two decades now, the intensity has been on the side of the nra. that the people who were single issue voters on guns, against regulation, come out and vote in midterm elections on that single issue. the big question now is, be after newtown, whether those who support regulation can become
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single issue voters in favor of regulation and whether they can mobilize enough support to pressure members of congress to either change their views or moderate their views a bit so they can get some of this package through. so take away some of the intensity from the nra voters. >> take a look at these numbers in these polls and you're digging deep. how realistic is the american public when it comes to the whole issue of gun control? >> i think the public is quite realistic. take a look at this. while the public clearly favors gun control and you see here that 55% favor gun control, 44% oppose. so that's quite a hefty 11-point margin. but then when you ask the question of whether you believe that gun control is going to fix violence in this country, look at this, by a two to one margin people say, you know what, this
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alone is not going to fix the problem. they understand that there are lots of factors that go into this, including how you deal with crazy people who would do such a thing in the mental health system and they understand that the laws that were proposed today would not have resolved the adam lanza problem, that it is a larger issue that has a lot of factors to consider. they want gun control but they understand it's not a single solution to the problem. >> most people at the white house up on capitol hill, they think part of the president's legislative proposal is a new ban on military-type assault weapons. the other background checks, maybe the ammunition clips having a limit on how many bullets can be in a bullet clip but the ban on assault weapons, that might be the most difficult. here's the question, why put that in if it's not necessarily going away? >> well, you've watched a lot of congressional negotiations. sometimes you put things on the
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table that you know aren't going to pass so you can take them off the table and then you can come up with a compromise. obviously the president had to put in an assault weapons ban. it's expired. it's been talked about for years. he hadn't done that before. we had to put this on the table. but you're right, wolf. they seem to understand that it may be a bargaining chip, actually, so that they can get the background checks that they want for every single gun owner to have a background check or conceivably to reduce the size of the high capacity magazines that are now being sold. >> gloria, thanks very much. remember, later this hour, david keene of the nra is coming over here. we'll get his reaction to all of this. it's probably no secret that members of congress are richer than average citizens but how much is the richest member of congress really worth? , there i. [ male announcer ] it's called ocuvite.
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it's been a mixed day on wall street. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in "the situation room." what happened? >> wolf, the dour dropped 28 points today. the nasdaq was up 2% while the
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s&p 500 was flat. boeing shares dragged down skidding 3%. investors are wary after two japanese dreamliners grounded their flights after the passenger jet had to make an emergency landing today. and this from our own political reporter, peter hamby. mark sanford has formally announced his candidacy for the u.s. house of representatives. he is running to rein in government spending. many thought his career was finished when he admitted to an extramarital affair in 2009. and the 113th congress may be one of the wealthiest that this country ever has had. the median income was $966,000. you can compare that to the income for the average american family, a relatively paltry
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$66,700. by the way, in case you are wondering, the richest member of congress is michael mccaul of texas. he's worth $500 million and change. and an oregon woman was stuck for several hours between an apartment building and a wall in portland. she was wedged in just a foot of space and her feet couldn't touch the ground. crews managed to get her out after they cut holes in the wall and it's still not clear how she got stuck in there in the first place. you can see what -- i'm sure she -- >> how do you get stuck in a space like that? >> i don't know. obviously she is quite pleased that she is free. >> can you imagine? >> that's the story behind the story. how did she get there in the first place? >> i'd be freaking out stuck in a little area like that. >> not for us that are claustrophobic. not at all. >> thanks, lisa. the national rifle association is about to respond
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to president obama's crackdown on guns, the powerful gun rights lobbying group will join us later in this hour in "the situation room." lots to talk about with david kooen. stay with us. ♪ [ male announcer ] some day, your life will flash before your eyes. make it worth watching. introducing the 2013 lexus ls. an entirely new pursuit.
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let's continue the conversation in our strategy session. joining us right now, two cnn political contributors. the democratic pollster cornell belcher and republican strategist alex castellanos.
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the president laid out a very am bishops shous plan to deal with guns. cornell, you're familiar with this issue. can he deliver? >> well, i think he can deliver. if you look poll after poll, this is where the american people are. what happened in connecticut was a conscience jarring for americans. similar to what we saw on 9/11 where the world is not the same. americans are hungry for change. the assault weapons ban, the commonsense registration laws, fixing the loopholes, these are commonsense things that congress should get on board. you're seeing a lot of grumbling from congress right now. they don't understand where the american people is on this, they are going to pay a price for this in two years. >> all of the other polls show there is a sigma majority who want to see greater action. >> we all want something done. something that the american people are suspicious of, is this another placebo drug that
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makes you feel better but doesn't do anything. for example, mayor bloomberg from new york pointed out the other day that 77,000 felons last year tried to buy guns. right? and that's a felony in itself. a crime. you can arrest them right there. that's a law we already have. this administration, we only prosecuted seven of those people. i mean, less than one-tenth of 1%. more laws? the survey said that over 60% of americans think that, yes, we want something done but these new laws won't make a difference. >> but you can go to gun shows or just privately buy guns. they don't have to go through any background checks. >> isn't that amazing? >> there should be more background checks, right? >> i think the system we have right now for background checks but me deterring the criminals because they don't get the crimes to commit crimes with by gun shows. >> have you been to a gun show? you know who are there?
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a bunch of not a bunch of criminals. let's do something effective and i think that's what republicans are looking at doing. >> i think it's very telling that my friend here alex won't even come out and support the loopholes for guns. i think what we're seeing is background checks and it's really telling, what sort of gun control measures are republicans for? they don't seem to be for any measures whatsoever. >> not true. >> they put together a very comprehensive package of reform and commonsense that people support and republicans are against all of them. why are republicans so afraid of the nra? do they work for the nra or the american people? >> well, generally believe it or not, a lot of republicans are americans. and what they would really like us to do something that works: for example, how many of these horrible crimes that we've seen, aurora, newtown, how many of
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those crimes are committed at gun shows? none. >> columbine. >> those guns were bought at gun shows. >> those were kids. those were kids who have broken a ton of laws anyway. we have a ton of laws to get those things off the books already. wolf, the vast majority, nearly all of them are stolen. criminals generally don't like to do a lot of paperwork. so promising the american people a real solution, for example, the high-capacity magazine. that sounds great. and if you love mayor bloomberg in new york and you think that banning 32-ounce sodas is going to make american people skinnier, because you believe, what, they are never going to figure out they could buy two 16-ounce sodas? you are going to love the high-capacity ban. >> why? >> are you saying that a crazy person should walk into a school but only have seven bullets?
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no. he should have none. >> there's a difference between -- >> by the way, ted kennedy has opposed and democrats have opposed for years. >> ted kennedy? >> ted kennedy for 20 years opposed tougher measures. >> i'm not going to go back to ted kennedy. >> democrats still do. >> the president has put forth a plan -- >> i think that's a good thing the president did. >> that's one good thing the president did. take high capacity -- these clips. you don't need all of those clips for hunting. it makes it easier to kill more people. what's interesting here, wolf, i think you sort of see this right now, republicans are so dug in on a position that, quite frankly, is not where the american people are. you can come along and help change these laws or in two years speaker pelosi can change these law gls how endangered can some of these democrats, specifically the more rural states that are up in 2014, there is a history of this, how politically dangerous, though, is this for these democrats to support the president?
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>> let me tell you this. i think what we're seeing right now is the same sort of thing we saw after 9/11 where the sort of conscience of america has changed. i hope this is an issue for going into the next midterm election, the next off-year election. i think the republicans are going to make this a front and center issue and they are clearly not where the american people are. they can either do it now or i'm telling you, speaker pelosi will do it in two years. >> ra-ra. democrats have been blocking this. democrats in swing states who actually have read the constitution and think that they can go right to the people that infringe. >> like the nra -- >> the democrats aren't the ones blocking this. the democrats aren't the ones -- >> speaker reid, harry reid, the leader of the senate, he's all on board for this, right? just want to make sure. >> i think leader reid is fine with it. in fact, they put out a
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statement supporting what the president did today. >> in two years, republicans and democrats are going to be measured at the ballot box. a lot is going to happen but the biggest thing that is going to happen is we're going to have time to see what works. not more false promises. >> nothing works, alex. >> is the president, for example, going to start enforcing the laws that we already have? his attorney general doesn't want -- >> cookie cutter -- >> why is the nra and its supporters so much more effective politically than the other side in dealing with this issue? >> poke be with me with a stick. money. >> why are there democrats -- and the antigun types, they have a lot of -- >> no, they are not. i'll give this to my republican friends. they are always better organized on the issues like this and they raise the money and the nra is effective in scaring republicans and primaries in ut approximating organization on the ground. some people have questioned whether they still have that power but clearly republicans are afraid of the nra. commonsense sort of things that they said before -- >> their membership has gone since the newtown, massacre,
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they got another 250,000 members. >> 300 million? >> that's pretty impressive, though, when you think four million members, five million members. >> when you look at the extremism that you see coming out of the nra, i've got a feeling that moderate role of americans is -- >> extremism. >> you're an ad guy, the ad that they put out today that crossed the line, went after the president's children, that is sort of disgusting. >> look, i want to defend that ad. >> you want to defend that ad? >> yes, absolutely. i think the tone of that ad, you know, i was taught to hate the sin and love the sinners. so calling somebody a hypocrite like that, technically in that ad, there's nothing wrong. the fact is, we're giving more protection to politicians than we are giving to our own children and that is a real issue. >> alec, there's nothing wrong with calling out the president's children? al, this is something that -- by the way, it's something we never do in this country we never sort of go after the president's children.
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of course the president's children are going to have protection. the president's children is despicable. i can't believe that you would stand here and not call that out as des pickable. it crosses the line, alex. you don't go after the president's children. >> nobody went after the president's children. all we're saying is we do a whole lot more to protect money and politicians and their families than we do to protect our own children in school and that should change. just because you live in washington doesn't mean you should get a better deal. >> i live in washington, i certainly don't get a better deal and there's a lot of crime in my neighborhood. so going after the president's children, that's something that we just never have seen before. >> i would disagree. i think they are making an important point there. >> they didn't necessarily go after the president. they brought the president's children into a political ad and as someone who covered the white house, you know what, leave the kids out of it. have your fight. you don't have to bring these young little girls, sasha and malia into this fight.
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just as chelsea clinton or the bush twins, we didn't have to bring the kids into a fight like this. >> on the other hand, we are talking about all our children. we don't have to bring them in either but i guess this incident brought them in. >> i don't have a problem talking about all of our children. i do have a problem, alex, talking about the children of this president. >> all of the politicians who enjoy special security that we don't get, should we leave them alone, too? no. i think it's a healthy part of the debate. i think the tone of the ad, you know, it went far thear than it should in terms of name calling and all of that but certainly there is a lot of hypocrisy in this issue. selling the american people issues that don't work, would you declare your home a gun-free zone? no. it would be -- it invites crime. we should talk about those things. >> the only point i was trying to make is i think it's
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inappropriate to start to bring sasha and malia, just as it was inappropriate to start to raise other kids of presidents into a political fight. >> it's a despicable thing. i can't believe you're standing here defending it because it's not something that should be done. >> i think we can talk about all of our kids and i think it's a worthwhile thing to do. >> the president's kids are unique because they are the kids of a president. they are not your kids or my kids. >> no more special than the kids that lost their lives. i'm sorry. they are not more special. >> they are not in more danger? >> we're not saying they are more special. they are unique. their father is the president. >> they are not more endangered, alex? >> not more endangered, it turns out, than the kids at newtown. >> it turns out -- and that's our point, isn't it? >> the head of the nra is going to be here to discuss this. guys, thank you. inauguration day only five days away.
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we're going to take you inside the security command center. we're going to show you what is being done to keep the first family safe. ♪ ♪ hi dad. many years from now, when the subaru is theirs... hey. you missed a spot. ...i'll look back on this day and laugh. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. if your a man with low testosterone, you should know that axiron is here. the only underarm treatment for low t. that's right, the one you apply to the underarm. axiron is not for use in women or anyone younger than 18. axiron can transfer to others through direct contact. women, especially those who are or who may become pregnant, and children should avoid contact where axiron is applied as unexpected signs of puberty in children or changes
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let's get back to the breaking news we're following right now. the hostages, some of whom are americans being held in algeria. joining us on the phone, cnn contributor, tom fuentes. what do we know, tom, about this group that claimed responsibility for the taking of these hostages, including americans, the brigade of the masked ones. what do we know about them? >> wolf, at the moment, there isn't as much known about them as there is about some of the larger groups in the region, such as al qaeda in the land of the islamic, aqim. so much of the activity from these groups have been either directed directly at algerian government facilities military or businesses and it's really the groups in the area kind of
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morphed more from their original name and back during the last ten or 15 years, they've taken over the name al qaeda and they also received a great deal of criticism frequently from zawahiri saying, you call yourselves al qaeda but you don't attack westerners, just algerians. if you're going to be representing a national interest, that's not what we want so we're going to take away your name. the name was never taken away and they still use it. but much of the activity has been taking over facilities and taking hostages for ransom and this is not much different from the group in the philippines. when it became clear all they did was raise money and more or less became a declared organized crime group as opposed to an
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islamic-based terrorist group. somali pirates, same thing. it's all about the money, not for any other political or religious aim. so -- >> i just got a statement from ed royce. he said today's terrorist attack in algeria is the latest demonstration of a large and growing radical move across north africa. he said al qaeda have been conducting regular kidnaps, earning millions. is this all about money? a political statement? what do you sense? >> well, that's a hard thing to judge sometimes when you don't have adequate intelligence. you don't know if they are raising the money in furtherance of terrorist activities but, if so, where are those terrorist acts? when these groups create the hostage situations, are they bolstering the personal retirement plan or are they really using the money in
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furtherance of the organization? aqim and these other regional groups there have been pretty weak historically, not funded or carried out any large-scale attack. and when you have a couple dozen people jump in pickup trucks and take over a facility that literally is out in the middle of nowhere, you know, that makes it a pretty soft target to be able to do. they are not attacking a facility or a major company or government structure in algeers, the capital. they are not taking on the military in a strong police force. they are out in the middle of know where so, yes, it's unfortunate and it's bad but you have these oil and gas wells all over north africa and, you know, many cases it's not going to be that hard to take over, just like we've seen the takeover of the oil facilities or boats transporting workers in the gulf of guinea off the coast of
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nigeria. we've had that happen over and over. usually the victim has been shell oil out of the net they are netherlands. this had is not uncommon to use criminal activity to fund their activities. but, again, when they get the money, what are they doing with it? what are they trying to accomplish with it? >> we are going to get much more on this story as it develops and i noticed the taking of the hostages, including the americans, in eastern nigeria, right near libya. they could easily move into libya if they wanted. tom, thank you. a fiery helicopter crash stuns london. more details after this. my geico app...see?ually ...i just uh paid my bill. did you really? from the plane?
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you're looking at a live picture right now at the white house. you can see it in the background there with the reviewing stand at the bottom of the screen. in just five days, that's where president obama will watch his inauguration day parade. live coverage throughout the day. the top priority on inauguration
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day will be keeping the president and his family safe. our own brian todd got an inside look at the command center behind that effort. >> reporter: wolf, with all of the planning and choreography, few people are as on edge right now as those in charge of security because unlike a ceremony or an innag gral ball, all it takes is one minor security blich to call a cascade of problems. >> joe hag began remembers his first glitch. january 2001 just after george w. bush's swearing in. hag began is in a motorcade. >> turned down military avenue and the aifd in the front seat of the car turned around and said, sir, there's a gas being mask under your seat, get ready to put it on. that was a little startling. >> that was to protect as possible teargassing from
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protesters. summits, secret president trips to war zones, inauguration. as we looked at the buildings president obama will pass, the secret service, the lead security agency for the inauguration, will make sure the buildings are clear of potential snipers. elsewhere, manhole covers will be welded shot. s.w.a.t. teams will be deployed all over the city. plain-clothed law enforcement officers mingling in the crowds. teams teams. >> our dive team will be working around the clock. >> reporter: that fbi official spoke with us where security teams will do real-time monitoring of surveillance cameras posted on buildings and roads. they will share tips and incident reports. with all of the checkpoints, monitoring situations and other prekaugs, it's this stage, the
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parade route here along pennsylvania avenue where the real unknown comes in. it's often along here where the president gets out of his car. that's when the president is most exposed and the crowds are massive. if he's right in here and gets out of his car, what is going on? >> well, what's going on in my mind is having faith in the plan and, you know, assuming that the agents are, you know, doing their job. >> reporter: hagin says the secret service often corey graphs where the president will get out and get back in, a tightly held secret. when it's all over, a big sigh of relief. >> an event of this magnitude takes hundreds, thousands people to execute it effectively and those people tend not to have a whole lot of fun. >> reporter: no matter how smoothly it may go, security officials are going to conduct a thorough review of the inauguration security after the event so they can tweak their practices for the next time. wolf? >> brian, thank you. cnn's coverage of president
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obama's second innag gral spans two days. first, a private ser moan at the white house on sunday and then monday's public ceremony over at the u.s. capital. please be sure to watch the presidential inauguration, both of them starting at 9:00 a.m. eastern on sunday and monday, right here on cnn. in our next hour, the pentagon has been waiting around to resolve the hostage situation in north africa. they are already looking at various military options. we're outlining to you what they might do to rescue americans being held hostage in algeria right now. ♪ ♪
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it's just common sense. from td ameritrade. you're in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. americans held hostage. they are among a number of americans being held by an islamic group in north africa. the latest front in the terror war. also, president obama unveils his tough new gun control proposals and immediately signs a series of executive actions. the rest, including a ban on assault-type weapons now up to congress. that won't be easy. we have full coverage this hour. we want to welcome our viewers
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in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin this hour with the breaking news, americans are among a number of westerners taken hostage in algeria during an attack on a gas production field. at least two people are reported dead in the attack by islamic militants which the united states is now calling a terrorist act. our pentagon correspondent, barbara starr, is standing by. i know she has details. they are sketchy right now but what are you learning? >> this is operated by british p petroleum and the challenge
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tonight is getting basic information, basic intelligence about what has happened, who is there, how many hostages, how many militants, the layout of the facility. they need basic information. they are working urgently with the algerian government to learn everything that they can, wolf. >> i know the pentagon gets involved in contingency planning and don't wait for things to get resolved. what do we know, what are we learning about what is going on behind the scenes, barbara, right now? >> exactly right, wolf. if there was to be some kind of u.s. military action, it would require the permission of the algerian government. it is their country. it also, of course, would come at the orders of president obama. what we do know is the u.s. military already has one unit on very short in the. this is the commanders and extremists force. it's at an undisclosed location, special forces that can move within four hours of getting that presidential order,
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specializing in hostage rescue and terrorism operations. there are a number of other units in the region. let's walk through some of them, wolf. there are about 150 marines in sigonella, italy, not very far away. they are trained for crisis intervention. there are also two teams of marines in rota, spain, also trained for anti-terrorism operations and back in the united states, the legendary and often called upon s.e.a.l. team 6, based on the east coast of the united states, they are always on the short stream. that four-hour typical notice, they could be wheels up if the order comes. but, wolf, you are right. what the military will be doing is putting some pieces into place so they are ready. so if the president says we are going to do this, they will be ready to go, wolf. >>barbara, i want you to stand by for a moment. i want our viewers to know that this gas field in eastern algeria is a joint venture with
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bp. two other companies are also involved, including stat oil and rereleased the statement that reads in part, we are continuously monitoring and working to resolve the situation. we are unfortunately able to give further details about this situation, the ongoing response or the remaining 12 statoil employees. barbara, we also have a statement now from the chairman of the house intelligence committee, mike rogers. i'll put it up on the screen. it's a statement about the americans kidnapped in algeria. i'll read it for our viewers. the kidnapping of americans and other western ners blazenly raises the stakes in an already volatile region. militant groups with ties to aqim are backing increasely brash in their activities. the obama administration needs
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to have a clear and focused policy on limiting the threats that they pose to the united states and to americans working abroad off of the usual battlefields. the statement goes on, this is from mike rogers, chairman of the intelligence committee, additionally, this administration needs to better understand the specific threats posed by aqim and other affiliated groups if we don't deal with these mill. >> translator: groups and terrorists swiftly and effectivelily, they will pose an increasing threat in the future as in benghazi and now algeria and mali. that's a statement from the chairman of the house intelligence committee. suddenly northwest africa is the latest front in the terror war. jihadists say it's a response to algeria's support for a french anti-terror offensive in neighboring mali where an al qaeda group has made major, major gains. brian todd is taking a closer look at what is going on there. >> wolf, we are getting
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information that there likely is a connection between the group which took these os stages and that group that's fighting for control of mali, right next door to ma lichlt. . that grouped call al qaeda and magrab. they could have taken that many hostages but experts say this group which claimed responsibility nor this action today is well practiced at that. translated into english, this group's name means, quote, those who sign in blood. it's also sometimes called, those who sometimes sign with blood. our terrorism expert and intelligence sources, this group is led by mokhtar belmokhtar and some of his followers are still afeel ated with that al qaeda affiliate in al qaeda. now, experts say that belmokhtar
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showed up in syria during the civil war there and his group is experts at taking western hostages and getting large ransoms. according to the group who took this action today, this was not a ransom play but revenge against algeria for helping france fight the militants in mali. they are all over this region in northern africa, many of their groups inter-woven. it's actually a successor group to the armed islamic group of algeria which fought the government in the early 1990s when election was covered. these groups go back two decades to that time when algeria was going through a horrible civil war. hundreds and thousands were killed over many years and this group is all tied to it. >> i'm sure this is a huge, huge embarrassment for the government of algeria because this took place on their watch, shall we say? >> it certainly did. the problem there is that the algerian government had poured hundreds of forces, thousands of
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forces into southern algeria in recent days to prevent any spillover from that conflict in mali now lo and behold, it looks like it has happened. >> brian, be thank you very much. we're going to stay on top of this story for our viewers. once again, americans being held in algeria. more information will come in and we'll share it with you once we get it. other important use, president obama unveiled a series of proposals to try to prevent gun violence in the united states. he signed 23 executive actions, including steps to expand background checks and safety in schools. >> while there is no law that can prevent every senseless act completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this
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violence, if there's even one life that can cbe saved, then we've got an obligation to try. >> president called on congress to restrict the size of ammunition imagi ammunition magazines and require universal background checks on all gun purchases in the united states. while the president took his own executive action on a number of measures, it's now up to congress to pass the much more sweeping proposals. let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, dana bash. this certainly will not be easy given the political clout of the other side. >> reporter: that's right. and you know the house speaker, his spoke man issued a statement saying they are not even going to consider doing anything, house republicans, that is, until the democratic-led senate acts. i'm told by democratic sources that is an open question. president obama knows the fate of his new gun control agenda depends onned it other end of
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pennsylvania avenue. >> to make a real and lasting difference, can congress, too, must act. congress must act soon. >> the president also knows his first hurdle is his own party persuading many fellow democrats from conservative pro-gun states to take a big political risk. one of those historically skeptical gun-owning democrats is senate majority leader harry reid but he released a carefully-worded statement signaling an open mind. i'm committed to ensuring that the senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence and other aspects of violence in our society early this year. another gun owning democrat is the senate judiciary chairman who announced he will hold this year's first congressional hearing on guns. >> spare me symbolic arguments, let's have a constructive discussion about how to better
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protect our communities from mass shootings a. >> reporter: democratic leaderships say the proposals to renew the assault weapons ban and magazines of more than ten rounds are unlukely to go anywhere. the only measure to go anywhere is the universal background checks. >> as many as 40% of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check. that's not safe. that's not smart. >> reporter: although democratic aides caution discussions are just beginning, background check legislation would likely give states financial incentives to report mental health records to a federal database. currently only 19 states comply and make it a prosecutable crime to sell a gun privately without a background check. the president is galvanizing
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lawmakers. >> if they say no, ask them why not? >> reporter: that question is already going to reluctant democrat, like north dakota freshman heidi height camp. when candy crowley described the plans earlier this month, she said this. >> i don't think that proposal necessarily as you described it to me fits the plan for me. >> reporter: a gun advocacy group took out this ad campaign saying, quote, shame on you. democratic sources tell me that in order to get anything passed gun control groups are going to have to engage in a lot more of the friendly fire, wolf, in order to compete with the nra which, of course, is powerful and to beat back genuine concerns among many lawmakers about curbing any second amendment rights. >> as you say, dana, the house is waiting for the senate to take the lead action. whatever passes the senate, they will consider it in the house s that what you are hearing?
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>> reporter: they will consider hearing. no promises. that's a big if. >> let's see what harry reid decides to do. a sensitive, sensitive subject indeed. thanks very much, dana. still ahead had, we're going to talk about all of this with the president of the nra. david keene will be here in "the situation room" and we'll get his reaction to the president's gun proposals. we're also going live to a firing range to show you the kind of military-style guns the president wants to limit. and after a series of scary incidents, two airlines ground their new fleets of boeing dreamliner's. what's behind the growing concern? and the top restaurant calorie bombs. number eight, smoothly king's king-sized peanut butter plus grape smoothie. 1460 calories. you'll see the top five. that's coming up.
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president obama's tough gun proposals call for a ban on military-assault style weapons. let's look at the type of weapons that he's talking about. miguel marquez is joining us live from a shooting range in las vegas. miguel, what do you have? >> we're at the larnlest shooting range in nevada here. we're going to look at an m-16. this is a real m-16. carlos, if you would just set that up for us, i'm going to put some eye protection and ear protection on while he does that.
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thank you, sir. so if you look at this m-16, wolf, right now it's in the safe position. when you move it to the number one position, that's the semiautomatic position. and that means as i pull the trigger, each time i pull that trigger, a round goes off. when i turn it to the number three position here, that's fully automatic. when i pull the trigger, the gun doesn't stop until i stop pulling that trigger. that's the big difference. one thing of note here, it is an m-16 but this weapon would be, except for that feature of the fully automatic, this weapon would be legal under current law and how the president would then decide which weapons would not be legal under -- what it's all going to come down to. this is a 30-round magazine. this would be presumably illegal.
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i want to bring in mike heck. thank you, carlos, very much. i want to bring in mike heck who is the manager here at the shooting range 702. you read through the 23 proposals. >> i have. >> not proposals but the executive actions. any concerns of what the president took today? >> it's still a bit vague but so far what i'm reading i don't see a huge impact on loss businesswise as of yet. it seems to be more encouragement by the president for bureaucracies and agency's cooperations. >> reporter: but anything in those 23 actions that will affect you and the business that you have here? >> not severely, not that i see. >> reporter: you can fire these fully automatic weapons here. you don't sell them but you sell a lot of the ar-15s, civilian mer versions that are semiautomatic. >> our sales have more than doubled. we've moved 100 ar platforms.
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price used to run 1,000, 1500 for an ar-15 and it's approaching 3,000. >> reporter: ammunition the same as well as the magazines. you don't sell the big drums or 100-round drums, do you? >> no. the price has doubled on those also. >> reporter: almost double on ammunition, correct? >> almost, yep. >> reporter: these are some of the difficult decisions that will have to come out of this. gun manufacturers before it will affect retailers like mike here. wolf? >> miguel, thanks very much. our new cnn time orc poll shows 39% of americans think stricter gun control laws would reduce gun violence. 61% say they would not. time magazine features vice president joe biden, gabby giffords, and the new york city mayor michael bloomberg. joining us to explain the cover,
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rick stangel. thanks very much. tell us why you put these individuals, these three people on the cover. >> i think, wolf, they represent the sort of three legs of the stool of people who are trying to combat gun violence of the gr progressive side. mayor bloomberg has been out spoken for a very long time about reducing gun violence and he will be contributing money personally to a super pac that will help candidates who are in favor of gun laws and, of course, gabby giffords herself is a sim poll of the terrible tragedies that can happen from deranged people using guns. >> they are the three individuals on this fight right now. they didn't get together for a formal photo shoot for the cover, did they? >> no. we shot them individually and
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pieced them together. congresswoman giffords couldn't come to washington. otherwise i think we would have gotten them all together. >> how difficult will it be -- and your reporters have done a lot of reporting on this -- to get the president's ambitious proposals through congress? >> i think it will be very difficult, as you know, wolf. part of it is that such a large percentage of people in congress are re-elected without much opposition. if you're in a red district or blue district, you don't have to be very purple and because as you see from our poll, americans are ambivalent about a lot of this. they are not convinced that stricter gun regulation will reduce gun violence. they are -- you know, they tend to actually agree with a lot of the nras proposals, 48% of the people agreed with the nra proposals. so i think it's an up hill battle for the white house. >> the poll that you and us -- we put out today, do you agree with positions in the nra? look at this, 48% agree.
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42% disagree. 10% unsure. illuminating poll underscores why this will be such a tough, tough fight for the president and vice president. rick stangel, thanks, as usual. >> thank you, wolf. still ahead, the president of the national rifle association is standing by to join us live. we'll get his reaction to president obama's gun control plan. ♪ we're lucky, it's not every day you find a companion as loyal as a subaru. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru.
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there is more trouble for the airliner that has been billed as the future of air travel. sandra endo is here in "the situation room" with the latest bad news for boeing. >> another incident in japan now nearly half of all dreamliner's worldwide have been grounded after two japanese airlines ordered reviews of its fleet of 787s and with around 800 aircrafts still on order, passengers want to know if these planes are safe. a boeing 787 dreamliner makes an emergency landing in japan.
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indicating possible battery problems and smoke in the forward component. a burning smell was detected in the cabin. just hours later, the two airlines with the largest dreamliner fleets, ana and japan airlines, grounded all 24 of their 787s through thursday. the ntsb, faa, and boeing are sending investigators to japan. this latest problem is raising more questions surrounding the dreamliner's use of lithium ion batteries. >> we've seen some major problems with lithium batteries across -- transported and used in our computers. i'm sure the faa is going to look at the quality systems of mering with the batteries used on this airplane. >> last week a worker discovered a fire in the belly of a japan airline of 787 at boston logan airport. the charred battery manufactured by a japanese company is now being an litzed by the ntsb.
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the faa approved the lithium batteries because boeing installed specific safety measures to address potential overheating problems. the latest incident is ut approximating passengers on edge. >> just like anything new, you have to get the kinks out of it. >> reporter: the transportation secretary is not worried. >> i believe this plane is safe and i would have absolutely no reservation of boarding one of these planes and taking a flight. >> reporter: the only u.s. operator, united airlines, has six dreamliners and it says all of its 787s have been inspected and continue to fly. in november, we got an inside look at a united airlines maintenance facility in houston where crews work on dreamliners. >> we're just going over some problems that we've had in the past, talking about them in the future. there's no issues right now. >> reporter: is it because this is such a new vessel, a new
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plane? >> brand new airplane. we're kind of getting to know it. >> aviation experts say these issues are the normal teething problems that come with any new aircraft. they say there are redundant systems on dreamliners. something like a cracked cockpit window appears, there are four layers to that window and even though passengers may be concerned about these issues, experts emphasize there are preventative problems in place should problems occur. wolf? >> they have to fix they problems and i hope they do. thank you very much. up next, the president of the national rifle association, david keene, there he is right there, he's standing by to join us live to get his response to president obama's gun proposal. also, we're going to hear from children who sat behind him as he signed his executive actions. r questionable choices i've made? i choose date number 2! whooo! [ sigh of relief ] [ male announcer ] choose taste. choose prego.
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the national rifle association is taking some serious heat for a controversial new ad spotlighting, among other things, president obama's daughters. david keene is the president of the national rifle association. he's here in the situation room. thanks for coming in. >> my pleasure. >> i'll play a little clip from the ad first. >> sure. go ahead. >> are the president's kids more important than yours? then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? mr. obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes but he's an elitist hip prypocr.
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protection for their kids and gun-free zones for ours. >> that's the ad. it's getting a lot of mileage out there on social media but a lot of people -- why bring the daughters, sasha and malia into this? >> it's not them specifically. >> you mention them specifically. >> we don't mention them specifically. we mention his kids and other kids. they are attending schools that have private security guards. we're not talking about the secret service. david gregory's kids go there, too. send their kids to schools where they have protection and then poo-poo the idea that the average american's children should have the same sort of protection. >> the white house press secretary jay carney, among other people, were very disappointed. they say, most americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight but to go so far as to make the safety of the president's children the subject
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of an attacked a is pungent. >> they know the point. the elitist kids safety should be the same as the children of the average working americans. >> don't you think it's different -- >> they have their secret service protection as the family should but the school that they attend and attended by other -- >> they all -- we try not to bring them into the political -- >> of course that's true. but the schools in washington that are attended by the elites, not just the president's daughters but the sons and daughters of others are protected by armed security. not the secret service. the school has other security. >> i think you could have made that point without necessarily bringing sasha and malia specifically -- >> sure, you can make the point -- >> you could have made the point the elites of private schools, they have security. >> that's fair.
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that's fair. you can make the point in a lot of different ways but the important point is the point that we were trying to make is that point, not some other point. >> what did you think of the president proposal? >> the whole thing? >> as far as background checks, what is wrong with making sure, for example, a terrorist or a suspected terrorist who can't board a flight because he's on a no fly list can't go to a gun show and buy a gun? >> most guns at gun shows require a background check, 90%. >> there's a huge loophole. >> i don't know how huge it is. there is -- >> person to person sales, you don't need any background checks. >> that's correct. >> so why let somebody buy a gun who potentially is a terrorist? >> well, there's two problems. first of all, there's no evidence that terrorists buy guns. buff that's not the poimpbt. at the gun shows, and we have proposed this in the past. if you and i go to gun shows as private security, i can't check a gun on you. i'm not allowed to access on the database. some years ago we asked the atf,
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we said, you can have a table or booth at a gun show and require everybody on the premises to do it. that's doable. the more difficult question with universal background checks is what if you and i are neighbor and you bought a new shotgun and say, dave, i don't want the old one anymore. do you want it? and sure, i'll buy it. how do you enforce that? how do you do it? >> you have to do that with cars. you register cars. >> you register your car. that's a different question. >> when you sell it to your neighbor -- >> you don't have to have a dealer's license to sell it to your neighbor. your right to a car is not guaranteed by an amendment to the constitution. but aside from that, what i want to see and what we want to see is what they really have in mind. we have bullet points. there's going to be a lot more to it than that. >> the polls are against -- you've seen all of these polls. they are showing most people favor strict gun control.
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the new cnn orc poll shows that 55% favor stricter gun control laws and 44 oppose. y you have a huge fight on your hand. >> well, as you know, when you get into a fight with the president and the congress, those polls aren't going to mean a lot. if they just read them, they change their position every other day because these polls are going to go bouncing around. the so-called assault weapons question has not moved much. when you're up against the president, if he is in fact willing to spend his political capital, you wouldn't want to mortgage your house and bet how it's going to come out. i think as this debate goes on, we've had this debate before and as people begin to look at it, as the public engages, i think we're going to be fine. i think that the second amendment is going to survive this. >> will there be any change on background checks? >> i don't know. >> what do you think? are you open to background checks? >> i'll tell you what we are
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open to, which we were delighted to see, we've been advocating for decades that those were potentially violent mentally ill should be included in the next system. >> what about magazines, high-capacity magazines, no more than ten bullets per magazine? >> you know, that sounds nice. they were included in so called assault weapons ban back in the '90s. didn't make so much different for anything. the problem is, you get into a bidding match. >> do you think somebody needs 80, 90 -- >> that depends on if they are at the range and in a lot of the competitions they do. i don't need one, they don't need one, but the fact of the matter is you get into it and the president says we don't need 30 round magazine, how about a ten-round magazine? and the fact of the matter is, the kinds of people who do this, particularly the mentally unbalanced who are the most likely people to do it shouldn't
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have any magazine. they shouldn't have any gun. let's fine them to the extent that we can. let's make sure that we don't get their hands on firearms and provide security because somebody's going to fall through the cracks. >> because mentally unstable individuals can legally go out and buy guns. >> that's correct. because they will not -- in most states they are not and have not been included in the database. >> forget about the database. they could go to a gun show or buy from an individual without any background checks. >> presumably if they could do that, they would. but that's not where they are going. >> presumably some crazy people want to buy a gun and they can buy a gun. >> the only person who recognizing the aurora shooter was off was a gun dealer who said, i'm not selling that guy a gun because he's crazy. he should have been -- a lot of these people should have been in the database. you're never going to check everybody. >> on the military type assault weapons, are you open at all
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considering what the president is proposing? >> if the president were talking about military assault weapons, yes. but military assault weapons -- >> he says military-style. >> that look like them. so what are they saying? some of them slipped through last time because they took off a bayonet lug. it was a cosmetic change. this time they are saying, well, if you have the same gun without a pistol grip, it's legal. if it has a pistol grip, it's illegal. they are the same gun. the problem they have with this whole thing, they are talking about semiautomatic firearms which have been in this country for a couple hundred years and they are sayed, based on what we like the looks of, we are deciding that we're going to ban some of them. that makes no sense whatsoever. >> what about the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms? >> it's a dysfunctional bureau. we saw it in fast and furious. >> would you support -- the presidents is he wants to nominate todd jones zip don't
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know todd jones. >> should there be a bureau? >> of course there should be. >> so you think there's finally time to have a director of the atf? >> yes. >> we'll continue this conversation. david keene is president of the nra. thank you for coming in. >> any time. president obama says addressing mental health is a key part of solving the problem. let's bring in dr. drew pinsky who has serious thoughts on this subject. i'll play a little clip, drew. listen to this. i'll read to you what the president said. the president said, we will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator. is the president on to something there? >> wolf, absolutely. on your program, on the heels of the newtown disaster, i was asking for exactly this.
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i mean, basically there are two things the president is going after, which is, there's fundamental conflict between the privacy of the individual and safety of the community. he is loosening those restrictions so the privacy of the individual does not take precedent over the rest of us. and he is allowing doctors, physicians to do their job. many times it is our gut insurance stint that tells us there is a problem and he is freeing us up to report that and to do our job. so i am commending him on taking action in these areas. this is precisely what i was looking for. however, lee tell you that i've been in general medical practice for 30 years and psychiatric hospital for 20 and there's been lots of lip service and instead of getting better, things have systematically gotten worse. i want to see the actual legislation before i'm going to say this is exactly what we should be doing. >> by executive order today, here's among the things he signed, 23 specific things. among the things involving mental health, he said he wants to clarify that obama care does
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not protect doctors asking patients about guns in their homes and clarify that no federal law prohibits doctors from reporting threats of violence and launch a national dialogue on mental health. is that going far enough? >> well, it's still qualatatively good but whether the actual actions that allow us -- what are the laws? what are the specifics that are going to allow us, if we get a hunch, to report it and make sure that that person doesn't get a gun. at least we can ask about whether someone can get access to firearms. it looked like we wouldn't be able to do that which is insane. so much of what we're trying to do here and i believe the president is doing the same, trying to protect the second amendment and bring in commonsense. these are all commonsense approaches. within that, fund mentally, keep your eye on one thing, privacy
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has been taken to the point where people's privacy becomes important but our safety and our ability to function as a community is what takes precedent over everything and thereby loosening privacy so physicians and doctors can do their jobs. >> a lot of people need mental health doctors to help them deal with their problems but might now say, i'm reluctant to do it. i don't want to be put on a list that is going to prevent me from getting a gun or doing x, y, or z. >> i categorically do not agree with that. by restricting my access to firearms because i shouldn't have access to them, somehow that's going to harm me. no, that's going to make you better. physicians and doctors are there to protect you, to make your life better. it's not going to be a harmful interaction and that will be obvious to people early.
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>> dr. drew pinsky is host on our sister network hln. dr. drew, thanks. >> thanks, wolf. still ahead, we're going to hear from some of the children who wrote to president obama and then sat behind him as he signed his executive actions today. [ n] i'm a hospice nurse. britta olsen is my patient. i spend long hours with her checking her heart rate, administering her medication, and just making her comfortable. one night britta told me about a tradition in denmark, "when a person dies," she said, "someone must open the window so the soul can depart." i smiled and squeezed her hand. "not tonight, britta. not tonight." [ female announcer ] to nurses everywhere, thank you, from johnson & johnson.
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standing at the president's side today over at the white house, four children each of whom wrote him letters like this one which reads -- and let me read it to you. i am writing you to ask you to stop gun violence. jessica yellin spoke to some of the children after the white house event. watch this. >> reporter: what inspired you to write the president? >> well, i was so overwhelmed with sadden with the sandy hook shooting and i knew that as one person i couldn't do anything but i knew that president obama could. so i decided to write him a letter. >> reporter: what do you hope can happen? >> well, i hope it's much harder for people to buy guns. i hope that like people with mental illness can't buy a gun and -- yeah. >> reporter: tell me a little bit about what you said in the letter. >> well, basically i just said
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that i hoped that he would do something and i said that i have four brothers and sisters and i would be sad if one of them passed away and i also told him that i know that laws have to be passed by congress but i hope that he tries really hard. >> reporter: is there something -- a message you would give to lawmakers now? >> basically, it's for the safety of children. it's not for the safety of -- i think it's okay for somebody who wants to own a gun but i think that it should be much harder to buy one. >> reporter: would you tell me a little bit about what your letter to the president said? >> well, i want to say i felt really bad about how those children lost their lives and why did they have to, you know, live half a life instead of a full life. >> reporter: what would you like to see happen now? >> to stop guns, to let only
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good people and the president be trusted by those good people to use guns instead of those bad people that the president doesn't trust and that he doesn't trust to have guns. >> reporter: what did you think when they called and said, come to the white house and help sell this? >> i felt excited. >> reporter: why? >> because when my mom told me, i didn't believe it but then we got on the plane and -- we got on the plane and i was like, what? >> reporter: what made you write the president? >> i wanted the children that still have their lives now to be safe instead of in danger. so i'm going to try to -- i need a person who can write a rule to stop guns. >> reporter: and if you had a message to the lawmakers now, to the people who passed laws, what would it be? >> keep -- keep your children safe and keep the babies safe, too. >> good advice from that kid. let's bring in jessica.
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did these kids write these letters as some sort of a school assignment? >> reporter: no, they didn't, wolf. i talked to both the kids and the parents. the parents said that the kids came to them and said, i'm so upset about the sandy hook shootings, i want to write president obama and tell him what i think. and in each case it was inspired by their own sense that as kids they personally can do something to change public policy. they really felt empowered, wolf. >> what did they say about meeting the president of the united states? >>. >> reporter: well, julia said the most amazing part was she got to hug the man who was elected president of the united states. she said it was fantastic. and tehon said he didn't really believe when he got the call that it was real and that he was actually on the plane and on his way. he came from georgia. they were both incredibly articulate, i have to say. on a more serious note, there's
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been more criticism that the white house is using children to sell a political message. in each case, the parent said they did not feel that and they felt gratified that they had a chance to voice their opinions so publicly. wolf? >> i can only imagine how excited these kids and their parents must have been to be with the president and the vice president over at the white house today. >> reporter: it was a treat to meet the kids. >> i'm sure it was a treat for you, i'm sure it was, jessica. thanks. in our next hour, i'm going to speak with two of the other children who were there, who wrote to the president and then witnessed a moment of history today at the white house. stand by for that. other news. the top restaurant calorie bombs as they're being called. number six, johnny rockets' bacon cheddar double burger with sweet potato fries and big apple shake. that's only 3,500 calories. wait until you see the top five. . 30 shrimp for $11.99. i can't imagine anything better. you're getting a ton of shrimp, and it tastes really good! [ male announcer ] hurry in to red lobster's 30 shrimp for just $11.99!
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wave been telling you exactly how many calories are in some of the menu items at some of those popular restaurants in the united states. now cnn medical correspondent elizabeth cohen has the top five most calorie-laden items out there. and some of them may surprise
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you. >> wolf, when you see some of these calorie counts, your eyes are going to pop out. because some of these dishes are more calories in the one dish than you're supposed to have in the entire day. so let's do a countdown. this is from the center for science in the public interest. on their list, number five, uno's chicago grill, deep dish macaroni and three cheese. 1,980 calories. now, to put that in perspective, you're supposed to have about 2,000 calories a day and you're getting almost all of that in one dish. number four, johnny rockets bacon cheddar double burger with sweet potato fries, 2,360 calories. and at number three, from the cheesecake factory, crispy chick yn costaletta, a whopping 2,610
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calories. number two, veal porterhouse with crispy red potatoes. looks pretty simple, no cream sauce or anything, 2,710 calories. and coming in at number one on the extreme eating list, the cheesecake factory's bistro shrimp pasta. it's because that shrimp is battered, that pasta, it has cream sauce, 3,120 calories. again, way more than you're supposed to get in an entire day. wolf, we reached out to all these restaurants and said, hey, can you talk to us about these high calorie entrees. here are the responses? maggiano's says, our dishes are served in generous portions, perfect for sharing or enjoying later at home. >> johnny rockets said, there are other menu options for those who have made a new year's resolution to lose weight. and uno's chicago grill says, we've really worked hard to make
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sure that choice receiver where. speaking of nutrition information, you may remember that during the debate over obama care, one of the things that's actually in the obama care health reform law is to have nutrition labeling on restaurant menus for these big chains, but it hasn't happened yet and it's not entirely clear when it is going to happen. so nepin the meantime, what youn do is look at the mean ewe and certain words should put up a red flag, should let you know, maybe you should look at something else. for example, if a dish has something that's battered, that's likely very high in calories, same for breaded. con queso means cheese, and crispy is a nice word for fried. and stuffed means it's probably stuffed with something creamy or cheesy. you can pick up your smartphone and go online and find the calories. if it's a big restaurant, it's likely it's going to be easy to find. i do it all the time.
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wolf? >> elizabeth cohen, thanks very much. another key to look out for, as we reported earlier, shake. if you add a shake to any of those dishes, a lot more calories included as well. americans taken hostage in nigeria and the united states military is considering options to try to free them. we have new information coming in. th america's favorite soups. bring out chicken broccoli alfredo. or best-ever meatloaf. go to campbellskitchen.com for recipes, plus a valuable coupon. campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. [ slap! ] [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium-rich tums starts working so fast you'll forget you had heartburn. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums i've got a nice long life ahead. big plans. so when i found out medicare doesn't pay all my medical expenses, i looked at my options. then i got a medicare supplement insurance plan. [ male announcer ] if you're eligible for medicare,
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happening now, breaking news. americans held hostage by terrorists in algeria. president obama unveils his plan to curb gun violence. children to wrote to him after the newtown connecticut massacre visit the white house. one of them is here to read her letter to the president. outrage over an nra ad, pulling the president's daughters into the gun debate. plus, a fiery helicopter disaster right in the heart of london. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." we're following the breaking news out of algeria. a deadly terrorist raid on a
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foreign-owned gas field with militants taking dozen of international hostages, including americans. the state department is trying to figure out exactly who is being held, while the pentagon is weighing its military options to end the crisis. and we're also now learning, officials believe the attack was launched from neighboring libya. our foreign affairs correspondent, jill dougherty, is here in "the situation room." she's been working her sources at the state department and elsewhere. what's the latest, jill? what are you hearing? >> well, wolf, u.s. officials are telling cnn that they believe this is a terrorist act as opposed to just a hostage ransom operation. and the basis for that determination is the fact of who's involved, an al qaeda-linked group, and the tactics they used. the officials say the group entered algeria from libya, where, as we know, the government does not have full control over the country. islamist fighters attacked a gas field in algeria owned by bp and algerian and norwegian companies, located in a remote
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area, some 37 miles west of the libyan border. riding in three vehicles, they targeted a bus carrying workers to a nearby airfield, killing at least two, and taking, they claim, 41 hostages. it's believed seven of those hostages are from the united states. the others are from japan, brunbrun britain, norway, and ireland. traveling in europe, defense secretary leon panetta called it a terrorist act. >> the united states will take all necessary and proper steps that are required to deal with this situation. >> reporter: a state department official tells cnn the group is demanding prisoners from their group be released to northern mali. the hostage takers, who call themselves the brigade of the masked one, claim as their leader a former leader of al qaeda in the islamic meghraib. they say they carried out their attack as a retaliation for
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algeria's allowing france to use its air space, so the french military operation against islamic terrorists in neighboring mali. >> we condemn in strongest terms the attack on british patrols and facilities in algeria earlier today. we are obviously closely monitoring the situation. we're in contact with algerian authorities. and our diplomatic counterparts in algiers, as well as with bp's security office in london. >> reporter: secretary of state hillary clinton spoke with the u.s. ambassador in algeria and also spoken with the algerian prime minister and the state department is working to get in touch with the families of those american workers, who have been taken hostage. wolf? >> let's hope for the best, jill. thanks very much. kate is also here. kate balduan following this story for us. >> we're following this story very closely, wolf. a defense official tells cnn the pentagon's africa command is taking the military lead on the al gearian hostage crisis, and that there are multiple assets that could be called on to
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intervene. let's bring in cnn's pentagon correspondent, chris lawrence, for more on this part of the story. so, chris, what are you picking up from over there? >> well, officials are telling us that the u.s. government has the capability to see this area. in other words, to get some idea of what is happening in this area, around algeria, where the hostages are being held. also, that small, lethal counterterrorism force, under u.s. africa command, that force has now been put on an alert, less than four hours. in other words, their readiness time has been upgraded to under four hours. this was the counterterrorism unit for africa command that didn't exist when the u.s. ambassador was killed in benghazi. it was stood up after that attack, specifically to respond very quickly to situations, just like this one. but another defense official says, look, any sort of assault-type mission is not
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something you would plan overnight. this would take days. he says, you know, when you're talking about limited information, dozens of potential hostage takers and even more hostages, he says that is an extremely high-risk operation, it would only be undertaken as a last resort, kate. >> so what do they need to sort out? what kind of information do they need to get? what kind of details do they need to sort out before they decide how and whether to take action. and how does the location of where they were taken hostage play into this? >> yeah, first of all, you want to know how many bad guys, so to speak, are you dealing with, if you can know that, how many hostages, specifically, are there. where are they? what's the layout of this bp oil facility? how easy would it be to defend or how difficult would it be to defend, and to get a layout of the terrain around that. in other words, going in, going out, all of these would be
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questions they would want to ask. but at this point, from what i'm hearing, from sources here in the pentagon, the best-case scenario would be some sort of diplomatic solution to this crisis, not any sort of military assault. >> at the same time, trying to garth all of those details so they're ready to go if need be. chris lawrence at the pentagon, thanks, chris. >> let's dig a little bit deeper right now with robert fowlerfow. he was held hostage in 2008 and 2009. he writes about his ordeal in his book called "a season in hell." you were held for, what, 130 days by this group? tell us a little bit about your experience. what's it like being held hostage by this al qaeda-affiliated group? >> well, wolf, the group that held me was commanded by the guy who took the lng facility in
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algeria this morning, the same guy. he's a jihadi of long date. he fought against the soviets in afghanistan. he lost an eye in afghanistan. he's called in the local lingo, an afghan arab. he returned to be a major islamist fighter in algeria, fought for 20 years in algeria. a war, by the way, in which 200,000 people have been killed, something that we know too little of over here in north america. he's a very serious guy. >> so what was it like to be held by them. what did they make you do? >> i was terrified the whole time. they grabbed me and my colleague and our driver just outside of the capital of niger. they took us 1,100 kilometers due north into the middle of the sahara desert. we stayed half of that time in one place and in 25 different places for the other half. we never knew when we would move
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or when we wouldn't. there was no shelter, there were no buildings. we lay in the sand. it was cold at night and hot in the day. the food was appalling. and every moment, every single moment, i thought that it would end like your colleague, daniel pearl, in a tent with a knife at my throat, and you'd all be watching it on cnn. >> that's something horrible to think about, robert, but as you're talking, as you said, this group's leader is affiliated with aqam, al qaeda in the meghraib. so when you see how this is unfolding today, does this surprise you or do you think it was a long time coming? >> i think they're constantly lacking for opportunities like this. constantly. i heard your lead suggesting that the gang are claiming that this is somehow in retaliation for french action in mali. that's a very convenient thing
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for them to say. but i suspect that they have an intelligence wing and they are constantly looking for ways to grab westerners and embarrass the west and confuse our options. and that's exactly what they're doing. >> how did you get out? >> well, louis -- i'm a diplomat, as is my friend, and we would lie there in the sand, asking each other, with our 75 years of geostrategic analysis between us, how are we going to get out? how can we make this work? and louis would say, they're going to eventually get tired of this and let us go in a humanitarian gesture. i would and say, dammitt, they're al qaeda, they don't do humanitarian gestures. they've got to get enough. the canadian government, wolf, has said very clearly that canada paid no ransom and released no prisoners.
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but i'm not here in one piece because of my pretty blue eyes. they got something. there are press reports. we took two european out with us, who were from another group, a group commanded by a particularly nasty guy. we took the two women of four who had been captured out with us. there are stories that ransoms were paid. and there are stories that prisoners were released in mali. >> well, ambassador fowler, we're happy you are out. we're happy you're safe, back in canada, and thank you very much for your expertise. i hope that these hostages in algeria right now, or if they're fill in algeria or libya, you say you were moved hundreds of kilometers within a matter of days, we hope they get out soon as well. appreciate it very much. >> well, thank you, wolf. i can only imagine what they're going through now and what their families are going through, and my thoughts are very much with them. >> as are ours. thank you very much.
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>> thank you very much. still ahead, repugnant and cowardly. that's what the white house calls a new nr ad that drags president obama's daughters into the gun debate. details of that controversy, ahead. ♪ [ male announcer ] some day, your life will flash before your eyes. make it worth watching. introducing the 2013 lexus ls. an entirely new pursuit.
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important breaking news regarding the boeing 787 dreamliner. japan grounded its fleet after a dreamliner had to make an emergency landing in that country. now, u.s. aviation officials are taking steps here, dramatic and important steps, sandra endo, as the details. what are you learning, sandy? >> wolf, kate, this is just coming in from the faa. they are requiring all u.s.
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operators of 787s to cease operations. that means that all dreamliners operating in the united states have to be temporarily grounded. here is what they issued in a statement. "as a result of an in-flight boeing 787 battery incident earlier today in japan, the faa will issue an emergency air worthiness directive to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations. before further flight, operators of u.s.-registered boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the faa that the batteries are safe and in compliance." so the batteries are the real issue here. there was a fire last week at logan airport on a japan airlines flight, wolf and kate, and also this latest one in japan as well. and this directive does not apply to foreign airlines. if they do have dream larlinerd they do not require to cease operations.
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>> even if they're operating in the united states? >> if they do operate in the united states, then, yes, they would then -- >> when you say "register," what if a european airliner or asian airliner flies to the united states, does that mean they can still fly a dreamliner to the united states? >> that's a good question, because the faa doesn't mandate or have jurisdiction over those foreign airlines, but typically what happens, because of the courtesy here, in terms of all the airlines working together, they usually fall in compliance to the faa's requirements. >> because united is the only u.s. airliner that does have the 787. >> that's absolutely correct. united airlines is the only u.s. operator of 787s. they have six in their fleet. so that means right now the faa is grounding all of those six united irliners. >> we'll see what some of the european countries do as well. this is a big issue for boeing. obviously, the safety of the passengers comes first and foremost. sandy endo, thanks very much. >> excellent information to know tonight. thanks, sandra, thank you so much. still ahead, we're going to
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hear from one of the children who wrote to the white house after the newtown massacre. julia stokes is here to read her letter to president obama. plus, a fiery and deadly helicopter disaster in the heart of london. just look at that video. [ male announcer ] when we built the cadillac ats from the ground up to be the world's best sport sedan... ♪ ...people noticed. ♪ the all-new cadillac ats -- 2013 north american car of the year. ♪ for a limited time, take advantage of this exceptional offer on the all-new cadillac ats.
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33 days after the newtown, connecticut, school massacre, president obama now proposing significant changes to the u.s. laws in an effort to try to curb gun violence. >> he unveiled them at the white house today, surrounded by children who wrote to him after the shooting. among them, 11-year-old julia stokes who wrote this in part. she wrote, "dear president obama, i beg you to try very hard to make guns not allowed." julia and her father will be joining us in just a few moments. >> first, though, our white house correspondent, jessica yellin. jessica, give us the specifics what the president proposed today. >> reporter: he is proposing sweeping changes to the nation's gun safety rules, and now the administration is focused on the public relations campaign. tomorrow, vice president biden addresses the nation's mayors on the topic. then on friday, the attorney general takes up the topic. the idea, keep this issue front
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and center in the public eye. president obama laid out an ambitious agenda to change the nation's gun safety rules and insisted he won't back down from a fight. >> i will put everything i've got into this and so will joe. but i tell you, the only way we can change is if the american people demand it. >> reporter: he used the power of the presidency, moving executive actions, allowing the government to crack down on gun crimes by tracking stolen guns and prosecuting people who use them, improving background checks, with more mental health reporting and information sharing, upping school resources and supporting mental health with more teachers and counselors. >> congress needs to help rather than hinder law enforcement as it does its job. >> reporter: so he's calling on congress to step it up too, with a ban on armor piercing bullets, stricter gun trafficking laws, and more cops on the street. but the top priorities will be
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pushing congress to ban high-capacity magazines and making background checks universal. his point man on the issue predicts tough politics. >> and i have no illusions about what we're up against, or about how hard the task is in front of us. >> reporter: to make the case, they brought persuasive advocates, elementary school kids who wrote the president after the sandy hook shooting. >> julia said, julia, where are you? there you go. "i'm not scared for my safety, i'm scared for others." >> reporter: what do you hope can happen next? >> i hope it's much harder for people to buy gun. i hope that people with mental illness don't, can't buy a gun. >> what made you write the president? >> i wanted the children that still have their lives now to be safe instead of in danger. >> reporter: it's a message the president hopes will deliver results. >> let's do the right thing. let's do the right thing for
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them and for this country that we love so much. >> reporter: wolf, also today, homeland security secretary janet napolitano reached out to leaders in the faith community, jews, muslims, sikhs, christians who have been impacted by gun violence to let them know what steps they are taking to help their communities, but also these faith community activists will also be important leaders in helping to lobby congress to help pass new laws. they also will be joined by some of the president's top supporters, including organizing for america and other activists, mayors against illegal guns, who will help organize lobbying efforts to keep this agenda front and center. >> the president will obviously be working hard together with the vice president to try to get this done. jessica yellin, thanks very much. the national rifle association says the president's proposals will only affect law-abiding gun owners and do nothing, nothing to protect children. meanwhile, an new nra ad pulling the president's children into
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the gun debate is generating at of controversy. our national political correspondent, jim acosta, is working on this part of the story. explain what's going on. >> well, wolf, i talked to a house democrat earlier today who called this add dangerous, kate and wolf. and there's no doubt the nra's tactics have been effective over the years in blocking gun control on capitol hill. but the question is whether the group's latest ad will backfire. more than 12 hours before president obama and vice president biden unveiled their proposals for gun control, the nation's most powerful advocate for the second amendment had already launched a preemptive strike. >> are the president's kids more important than yours? than why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools? >> reporter: in a move to rally gun rights supporters, the national rifle association released this ad, calling attention to the secret service protection guarding the president's daughters, malia and sasha at their private school in washington. >> protection for their kids, and gun-free zones for ours. >> the spot, echoing the group's
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proposal for armed police officers in schools nationwide, is another reminder of the nra's hardball tactics, aimed squarely at any gun control measure to hit the halls of congress. but house democratic leader nancy pelosi, heading into a hearing on new gun restrictions with philadelphia mayor, michael nutter, said the add crosses a line. >> i thought it was completely inappropriate to involve the president's children. they have protection because of national security and it was really inappropriate. >> do you think the nra made a mistake there? >> it's just a disgrace. >> reporter: other house democrats said the ad amounted to intimidation. >> we're dealing with people who aren't tiserribly stable, so i think that kind of ad, i think, is dangerous. >> reporte >> it was irresponsible, and you know, this is not your grandfather's nra. >> reporter: there was also outrage over at the white house. "most americans agree that a president's children should not
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be used as pawns in a political fight," said press secretary john carney, "but to go so far as to make the safety of the president's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly." david keene it is not an attack on the president's children. >> we believe the same kind of safety that elitist kids have should be available to the children of the average working american. >> reporter: at his news conference, president obama said he knew opponents would turn up the heat. >> this will be difficult. there will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists, publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on civil liberty. >> it's going to be tough, isn't it, for your side to prevail in this? >> i'm standing here talking about children, and i have no issue at all with people's second amendment rights. but i will tell you, i have no
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locks, i have no artificial barriers i can put up to withstand an ar-15. >> it's worth noting the nra is hardly paying a dime airing this ad, but it didn't take long for the spot to make the rounds on social media. as for house republicans, many of them were out of town on a retreat and not available for comment. we did try to reach out to them as well, but did not get a response. >> definitely touching a nerve, that's for sure. >> absolutely. >> thatjim acosta, thanks very . >> you bet. >> thanks, jim. this just coming into "the situation room." the u.s. government now telling cnn there are perhaps as few as three american hostages being held in algeria right now. earlier, the hostage takers claimed to have as many as seven americans, but u.s. officials are disputing that claim. we're also told the attack appears to have been long planned, long before france's
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air attacks in neighboring mali this week. that's the excuse u.s. officials say given by hostage takers earlier today. we'll stay on top of this story. >> a developing situation, as we speak, wolf. also, still ahead, a letter to the president from a child grieving over the newtown school shooting. 11-year-old julia stokes was at the white house today. she's here with her father to speak to us. plus, new questions swirling around notre dame football star, manatee taio. was he the victim of a cruel hoax? check out my new treadmill app. pretty sweet, huh? cute. but don't you have any apps on your phone that can make your life easier? who do you think i am, quicken loans? at quicken loans, we'll provide you with myql mobile. this amazingly useful app allows you to take pictures of your mortgage documents
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we're so lucky that lucy picked us. [ female announcer ] purina cat chow complete. and for a delicious way to help maintain a healthy weight, try new purina cat chow healthy weight. happening now, her letter to the president of the united states about guns took her to the white house today. now 11-year-old julia stokes is here in "the situation room" to
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share her heartfelt plea. how pill bottles can lead police to prescription drug thieves. and questions swirling around the college football star. was he victim of an elaborate, elaborate hoax? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." president obama surrounded by children as he announced his proposals to curb gun violence. >> that's definitely right, wolf. each of them had written to the president following the newtown school massacre. the president singled out 11-year-old julia stokes. >> in the letter that julia wrote me, she said, i know that laws have to be passed by congress, but i beg you to try
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very hard. julia, i will try very hard. >> julia and her father, theo, are here in "the situation room" with us right now. julia, thanks so much for joining us. theo, thanks to you as well. so what was it like to be with the president of the united states today? >> it was breathtaking. it was just amazing. >> what was the most exciting moment? when he actually mentioned your name? >> yeah, and when he hugged me. >> afterwards? >> yeah. >> and he signed your letter, right? >> yes. >> that must have been -- >> you still have it, right? >> yeah, we're going to frame it. >> you're going to keep that forever, i assume. >> yes. >> julia, could you do us a favor and read us your letter? >> yes. right now? >> please do. >> dear president obama, my name is julia. i'm an 11-year-old who lives here in d.c. there are no words to explain how sad i am about the school shooting. even though i'm not scared for my safety, i'm scared for others. i have four brothers and sisters and i know i would not be able
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to bear the thought of losing any of them. i may not be that into politics, but my opinion is it should be very hard for people to buy guns. the only thing they do is harm or kill and guns should only be in the most horrible event, where others will get hurt if they are not. i know that laws have to be passed by congress, but i beg you to try very hard to make guns not allowed, not just for me, but the whole united states. my love and regrets, julia. >> that's a very thoughtful letter, julia. why did you decide to sit down and write it? >> well, i was overwhelmed with sadness about the school shooting and knew as one person i couldn't do anything, but i knew that president obama could. so i decided to write this letter hoping that at least he would read it and think of doing something. >> theo, you're the dad. did you ever think when she wrote this letter to the president, that today would wind up as it did? >> i though, at most, we might get a response and i was trying to encourage julia to do something with these feelings is
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that she had. by no means did i ever imagine th that this would happen. >> what was it like for you? >> this was extraordinary. i just remember when the event happened, i couldn't get through a newspaper article without tearing up and thinking about my own kids and how awful it was. and julia, she was sitting at the table, and i think she kind of saw me tearing up and she kind of quietly went off to her room and began to write this letter. and i said, let's just send this off and see what happens. >> so this wasn't like a project for school or anything like that. >> uh-huh, no. >> this is just something that you wanted to do? >> yes, i saw how sad my dad was, so i went up to my room and wrote it. >> did you ever think the president would read it? >> maybe put it on his desk and frame it, that was it. >> that would be pretty good. >> now you've come to the white house, in the middle of this big
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event, in the middle of a very passionate debate about gun control. what do you make of it all? >> i think there are definitely areas that common ground can be met and i think that we all, all of us especially that have kids, can't fathom what this must be like for these families that are going through this. and actually, i take that back. we can fathom it too much, actually, and we can feel too much to know as parents how hard this must be. and there have to be things we can do and we can agree on as a society that can help strike pa balance. >> you take your kids to school. >> of course. >> they go to a local school. you live here in washington. what do you want to see your school do to strengthen security? >> i don't think anything needs to be done at our school to change security. i think our society is what needs to change. i think schools are fine. i think the issue is that we need to come together and figure out how to get, you know, military-grade weapons out of joe public's hand. i mean, that's a personal opinion, but it just doesn't seem like there's much reason in a society as ours for us to
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have, you know, military-style weapons. >> and julia, you were very impacted by what you saw happen in connecticut. unfortunately, you even had to see it, it makes everyone sad thinking that you had to see the news and see how all that happened. what was it like for you then to go to school? >> i was actually kind of scared. >> the first day back? >> yes, right after -- i was scared. i didn't want to go to school. i mean, i didn't know what happened. i had a dream the night before that somebody did come to our school, and i was very scared. but i think my school has really good protection. so, i knew in my heart i would be okay. >> do your teachers do something special to reassure you? i assume a lot of the other kids were a little scared too? >> they didn't really do anything, but we had five minutes of silence, and that was a big thing. >> in memory of those 20 children who were killed in newtown? you know, kate and i went to newtown, connecticut, right after that horrible, horrible event. it changed our lives, too, and i'm sure it changed your life and it changed everyone's life. but what you want to see happen right now is the president and
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the vice president get this passed, this new legislation? >> yes, i hope that they try very, very hard. >> so when the president promised you he would try very hard, you believe him? >> you're going to hold him too it, right? >> yes. >> before we let you go, julia, there was another very, a very cute moment, i think, between you and president obama. i want to make sure we play it first and then i want to ask you about it. >> anybody left-handed? >> me. >> are you? >> that clearly was awesome. what was the president saying there? >> well, he told me, and our signatures get very messy. >> because he asked, is anybody else left-handed? >> yes. >> as a fellow lefty, i really do hope you have better handwriting posture than the president. >> this is what i want you to do, julia, for me. the president did it for you, and i want you to do it for me.
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would you sign that this letter that you wrote to the president for me. >> yes. >> thank you. >> yeah. >> thanks for the good work. >> oh, no problem. >> you're an amazing young girl. >> thank you. >> your dad's very proud of you. >> just a tiny bit. >> he loves you very much. >> and we love your smile. >> thank you very much. >> julia, theo, thank you very much. >> thank you, julia, thank you, theo. great to meet you. still ahead for us, one of college football's biggest stars could have been the victim of a very cruel hoax. we're digging into this story and we'll bring you the details, ahead. it's called ocuvite. a vitamin totally dedicated to your eyes, from the eye care experts at bausch + lomb. as you age, eyes can lose vital nutrients. ocuvite helps replenish key eye nutrients. ocuvite has a unique formula not found in your multivitamin to help protect your eye health. now that's a pill worth taking. [ male announcer ] ocuvite.
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historic time here in the nation's capital. we're counting down to the presidential inauguration, lang with those involved in the massive security operation. >> massive security operation. cnn's brian todd takes a look at some of the extraordinary measures being put in place right now. brian? >> reporter: wolf and kate, with all the planning and choreography surrounding the inaugura inaugural events, few people are as on edge right now as those in charge of security. because unlike an inaugural ball, all it takes is one security glitch to start a
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cascade of problems. joe hagen remembers his first jolt working security in an inauguration. january, 2001, just after george bush's swearing in. hagen's in a motorcade moving with the new president toward the white house. >> turned down pennsylvania avenue and the military aid who was in the front seat said, sir, there's a gas mask under your seat. get ready to put it on. which was a little startling. >> reporter: that was to prepare for possible tear gassing of protesters. later, as deputy white house chief of staff under president bush, hagen coordinated security and logistics for big events. summits, secret presidential trips to war zones, inaugurations. as we looked at the buildings president obama will pass, hagen said the secret service, the lead security agency for the inauguration, will make sure the buildings are clear of potential snipers. elsewhere, manhole covers will be welded shut, s.w.a.t. teams will be deployed all over the
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city, plains clothed law enforcement officers mingling in the crowds, bomb-sniffing dogs, even teams trained on weapons of mass destruction. and -- >> our dive team, our intelligence analysts will be working around the clock, our hostage negotiators. >> reporter: that fbi official spoke to us inside the multi-agency communications center, where security teams will do realtime monitoring of surveillance cameras, posted on buildings and roads. they'll also share tips and incident reports. >> reporter: with all the checkpoints, monitoring stations and other precautions, it's this stage, the parade route here along pennsylvania avenue, where the real unknown comes in. it's often along here where the president gets out of his car. >> reporter: that's when the president is most exposed and the crowds are massive. if he's right in this area and gets out of his car and walks, what's going through your mind at that moment? >> well, what's going through my mind is, you know, having faith in the plan and, you know, assuming that the agents are, you know, doing their job.
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>> reporter: hagen says the secret service often choreographs where the president will get off his limo and where he'll get back in, a tightly held secret. when it's all over, a big sigh of relief. >> an event of this magnitude takes hundreds of thousands of people to execute it effectively. and those people tend to not have a whole lot of fun. >> reporter: hagen says no matter how smoothly everything goes on inauguration day, security officials will still conduct a thorough review after the event so they can tweak their practices for the next time. wolf and kate? >> brian, thanks very much. and this important note, we have two, not one, but two days of special inauguration coverage lained up. join me this coming sunday and monday morning, starting at 9:00 a.m. eastern, for the presidential inauguration. the 113th congress may be one of the wealthiest this country has ever had. the median net worth of all members of the current congress was nearly $1 million in 2011, the last year for which
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financial disclosure data is available. compare that not income for the average american family, a relative paltry $66,700. the richest member of congress is republican representative michael mccaul of texas. he's worth $500 million and change. and i think he topped the list last year as well. >> a rich guy. >> sure is. >> yeah, he was on top last year, on top last time. $500 million, pretty good. >> i would say so. >> thank you. bottles of painkillers equipped with tracking devices. up next, the latest on a new york city police effort to crack down on crime. and questions swirling around a college football star. he was a victim, apparently, of an elaborate and twisted hoax. [ male announcer ] shift the balance of power decisively in your favor. the exclusive 8-speed transmission and rotary shifter in the 2013 ram 1500. engineered to move heaven and earth.
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prescription drug theft is a growing problem across the united states. in new york city, police are using a new weapon to try to help nab some of the culprits. cnn's mary snow is joining us with details. what's going on here, mary. >> wolf, if you think of a low jack system to track stolen cars, this is a similar idea. the city's police department wants pharmacies to store decoy pill bottles with tracking
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devices to help catch thieves, but it's not the first place to use this kind of technology. just to get inside this long island pharmacy, you have to be buzzed in. owner harold levine changed security drastically after an armed robber held up his store twice, looking for pain killers. >> i still love coming to work, but it's a different feeling, because now you wonder if you're going to be going home at the end of the day. >> reporter: he no longer carries oxycontin and other painkillers in the store, but for the past area, he did stock a fake bottle of painkills, equipped with a tracking device inside. >> when the drug is actually lifted up out of its base, sort of like a phone charger, or when it's lifted out of the base, it activates a signal directly to the police department. >> reporter: in levine's case, it was the suffolk county police department. police there say they've used the devices as part of stepped up security measures, following a quadruple murder in 2011 by a
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robber, searching for prescription painkillers. the tracking device, they say, is embedded inside the bottle and not visible. it emits a signal when it's removed from the shelf. now, new york city's police chief plans to do the same, and asks the city's 1,800 pharmacies to carry the gps devices as an investigative tool. >> we in the police department have seen the destructive power of addiction firsthand. we had a police officer who was injured in the line of duty, he was given painkillers, he started to abuse them, he then started to rob pharmacies on his own. >> reporter: the devices are made by the same company that makes oxycontin, and it would only say it's working with the nypd. nationwide, the number of pharmacy robberies, according to the drug enforcement administration, fell in 2011 to 663, down from 758 the previous year. but in new york city, painkiller addiction is so pervasive, the
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city recently announced it's restricting the use of prescription painkillers in emergency rooms at city hospitals. with addiction such a problem, harold rooms. with addiction such a problem harold is hopeful that tracking devices will make a difference. >> because the person who is coming in who needs the medication and has a true dependence and they really don't care whether somebody is looking at them on cameras. it doesn't matter. >> as new york city gears up to launch the program and expects to do so in two months the police department says it is building a database of all of its 6,000 licensed pharmacists on the city and will be working with them on special security recommendations. we turn to a strange and troubling story involving college football star tao.
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not a ton of answers. i can't really make heads or tails of this. >> looked like it was made for tv in the fall but now it appears that a good part of it was made up. the all american linebacker, heisman trophy runner up had a heart wrenching story in september. according to tao he lost his grandmother and his girlfriend both to illness in a span of hours. his girlfriend reportedly died of leukemia. a few days later he starred. the part about te' 0's grandmother is true. an exhaustive article reports there is no record of her being
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in a car accident a few months before her reported death. and dead spin reports there is no record anywhere of her dying of leukemia. she was basically a fictitious creation and a picture of her was that of another woman who is not part of any of this. cnn and other outlets have obtained a lengthy statement in which their kwarcharacterize hi a victim. he had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax with someone using a fictitious name ingreigeiated herself and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she tragically died of leukemia. the university immediately
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initiated an investigation to assist manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of the hoax. extremely bizarre. >> is anyone speaking out about why he had gone so much lengths as characterizing this person as his girlfriend. >> espn got a statement from him. in part it reads this. this is incredibly embarrassing to talk about but over an extended period of time i developed an emotional relationship with a woman i met online. we maintained what i taught to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone and i grew to care deeply about her to realize that i was the victim of what
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was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was and is painful and humiliating. he apparently spoke to someone on the phone who was this girlfriend. it wasn't just social media. someone was a voice on the phone. >> be careful on social media. what you think is going on something different can be going on. >> this was part of the fairytale story leading up to the national title game. >> anyone who watched college football saw this story, lost his grandmother and his girlfriend and overcame hardship. half of it was a hoax. >> i will be following this closely and so will all of you, as well. a woman trapped between two walls for hours. her amazing rescue and how she got there, next. i can't imagine anything better. you're getting a ton of shrimp, and it tastes really good! [ male announcer ] hurry in to red lobster's 30 shrimp for just $11.99! choose any two of five savory shrimp selections,
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downtown portland, oregon as rescuers try to cut through a wall to get her out. she was apparently on this second floor roof often used as a smoking area when king heard her yelling for help a little after 3:30 in the morning. >> climbing on the wall. why are you climbing on the wall. she falls down. >> reporter: falls between the exterior walls of the two buildings. fireman pull down a section of wall and inserted air bags to widen the space. >> they are using that bottle there and that is lubricant to try to make her more slippery. >> reporter: rescuers estimate the space the woman was in measured a mere 8 inches or so. about 3 1/2 hours into the ordeal good news was revealed. >> i see her hand, i think. i believe i see her hand with a glove. >> reporter: at one point there